The EU at present is experiencing lower levels of economic growth than in past decades, with lower revenues available to support traditional budget expectations; budgetary pressures from a range of complex social pressures and fiscal risks; and increasing demands from citizens and stakeholders for assurances about the impacts and efficiency of public spending.
Against this background, the EU Budget Focused on Results initiative was launched in 2015 to accentuate the performance aspects of the EU budget system, in order to improve accountability and public trust, and to maximise the impact of limited EU resources. The President of the Commission, Mr Juncker, made it a priority that the Commission should
“demonstrate the value added of the EU budget and contribute to a stronger performance culture in relation to the EU budget, including by enhancing performance-based budgeting across the Commission.” In order to succeed, this objective required close co-ordination within the Commission and ownership by the various actors involved. For this purpose a Network of Commissioners on “EU Budget Focused on Results” was created under the chair of Commission’s then-Vice-President Ms Georgieva, to provide the political steer, leadership and co-ordination. The network agreed on an overall strategy encompassing three strands:
1) In what areas does the EU spend, 2) how does it spend and 3) how is it assessed? The network agreed to pay particular attention to communication on the EU budget. In addition, technical meetings are held with representatives from Parliament, Council, Commission, Member States, the Court of Auditors and other stakeholders.
In order to follow a clear and realistic approach to overall performance and budget performance issues, the EU Budget Focused on Results initiative aims to address EU budget decision-making ex ante (i.e. prior implementation) and ex post (i.e. based on implementation).
Ex ante measures aim to reinforce the performance-informed decision-making process by ensuring delivery of results that matter to citizens, the best possible monitoring and measurement of performance against the indicators set out in programme statements and work programmes and improving the use of performance information in the management of the EU Budget. Ex post measures focus on management of the residual error rate through implementation of cost-effective controls in view of setting a benchmark for a reasonable risk of error per area of activity/programme and thus also achieving better budget performance.
The EU BFOR initiative is carried forward through six main “operational workstreams”:
The objective is to continue the administrative simplification of EU funding following-up on the Simplification Scoreboard which accompanied the negotiations on the legal bases under the MFF 2014-2020.
Under the MFF 2014-2020, performance indicators are defined in the programmes’ legal bases and delegated/implementing acts. The objective is to analyse these indicators to identify those that provide evidence for the MFF policies and their results against main stakeholders’ expectations and can be used to communicate better on the achievements of the EU budget. In doing so, the process will widen the management of priorities from expenditure, control and compliance to a greater focus on performance.
3. Cost-effectiveness of controls
Inefficient control systems misuse resources, which would otherwise contribute to the achievement of results. Furthermore, they impose a significant administrative burden on beneficiaries and discourage participation to the programmes. Thus, ensuring the cost-effectiveness of the control systems for managing legality and regularity risks is a key factor for improving performance. The objective is a process to assess and improve the management and control systems at both Member States and Commission levels. This would allow reallocating resources to those controls yielding the most benefits while appropriately managing legality and regularity risks within the risk environment set in the regulatory framework.
4. Discharge and declaration of assurance
The Commission intends to continue to develop its methodology to estimate the amounts at risk with the budget implementation, to simplify the rules and improve the cost-efficiency of controls, and to estimate on this basis the appropriate residual error rate corresponding to sound financial management for each policy area and the corresponding materiality threshold. This should lead to a substantiated basis for a positive assessment by the Discharge authority.
5. Project database
A search tool is being developed, based on existing project databases covering the main spending Directorates General of the Commission and those with projects closer to the citizen (e.g. agriculture, development co-operation, education and culture, humanitarian aid, employment, growth, maritime affairs, neighbourhood policy, regional policy, research and development) and presenting data on individual project funding, objectives, results and impacts as well as information on the beneficiaries. The project results website is: http://
ec.europa.eu/budget/euprojects. It should improve public communication on the EU budget, allowing citizens better to see the impact of EU-financed initiatives on their lives.
Furthermore, this exercise should reinforce the provision of information on the societal impact of policies and programmes.
6. External communication on EU budget focused on results
The overall objective of this work-stream is to improve communication on EU budget along the taxpayers and beneficiaries’ expectations of effectiveness, added value, efficiency and, accessibility of EU funds. So far, it has resulted for example in:
❖Annual Conferences on EU Budget Focused on Results to communicate about the increased focus on performance in the EU budget and create a common ground for all actors responsible for the implementation of the budget allowing exchange of views and best practices.
❖Experts meetings on Performance-Based Budgeting in operation since 2015, gathering the Institutions involved in the budgetary process (Commission, Parliament, Council, and Court of Auditors) with the objective to create a shared understanding of the performance-based budget concept, its key features, the role and responsibilities of EU Institutions and Member States in ensuring EU budget implementation.
Current developments on the EU Budget Focused on Results can be found at: http://